The Nigerian government has threatened to shut down national airlines over billions of naira debt, the airlines said.
The civil aviation regulator said the airlines owed the government 19 billion naira and $7.6 million, and refused to pay despite receiving money from customers. The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority said the airlines instead launched a “campaign of slander and lies” against her.
“Airlines must reach a memorandum of understanding on how they will pay their debts within the next 30 days from August 30, 2022, or their license will be suspended when the deadline expires,” the chief executive said on Tuesday. of the NCAA, Musa Nuhu, in Abuja during a meeting. with representatives of local carriers.
He said, “This situation cripples the finances and pits the Authority against the federal government as a government revenue-generating agency, following the dire financial situation of the federal government.”
Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), an umbrella body for all airlines operating in Nigeria, had accused the NCAA of imposing multiple charges on its members.
The AON, in a letter to Finance Minister Zainab Ahmed, said the accusations, along with the scarcity of foreign currency and shortage of aviation fuel, are suffocating airlines.
Offended by the tone of the complaint, Mr Nuhu said the airlines’ accusations were “unfair, unfounded and smack of blackmail”.
He said all airlines are beholden to the NCAA, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA).
Nuhu said the NCAA charges airlines a cost recovery fee because the bulk of its revenue comes from statutory fees on airline tickets. He said while customers are paying the money, the airlines continue to fail to deliver them.
Furthermore, he said AON’s charges were false as a comparison of charges between Nigeria and Ghana shows that Ghana charges more than 100% more for most charges.
“The NCAA will also be revising its fees upwards as the Authority has not reviewed its fees for approximately 13 years despite the rising cost of providing services,” Nuhu added.
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He explained that aviation agencies face challenges just as much as airlines, as they also depend on forex to train and procure essential equipment that the airline needs to operate safely.
He said that NAMA also owed over N5 billion and FAAN also owed over N19 billion to the same airlines.
Skye Jet chief executive Kashim Shettima said the NCAA was also not “perfect” and the issues raised could be resolved amicably.
He suggested that the NCAA GM should have engaged the AON privately to resolve the issues, because if the AON also starts talking, it would be like “dirty laundry in public”.
“Yes, airlines owe money, but they are also deeply challenged because they cannot get fuel or freely access dollars. They buy dollars on the black market. We must come together to solve our problems,” he said.
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